Serial Plant Killer

by Meghan Medford in , ,

Full disclosure: I’ve had this blog post written for a few weeks and stashed in the draft folder. I realized that I couldn’t have the last several posts feature my inability to keep living things, well, living. I’ve listened to the entire Serial podcast religiously this past week and I am thoroughly terrified of doing/saying anything that could prevent me from being exonerated from a future/imaginary crime that I didn’t/won’t commit.

Let me explain: let’s say one day that my future/imaginary kid breaks a future/imaginary bone and we’re in the ER getting it set. And with my extensive knowledge of legal procedures (CSI & Blue Bloodsmarathons), usually CPS interviews you to make sure you’re not abusing your child, right? Just in case. Well, what if they Google me, find these posts and say, “oh, well she had a string of plant murders back in 2014. I don’t trust her alibi. She certainly can’t care of things”. And then some random friend-of-a-friend will come out of left field and say I’m a terrible person and then they’ll find a graveyard of missing, dead hydrangeas that are (literally and figuratively) planted to frame me. Boom. Done. Life in prison. This is how my brain works. Scary, right?

And for those of you who think that Adnan is guilty, well, then no shrimp sale for you at the Crab Crib. 

(of you have listened to the Serial podcasts, this makes more sense to you than others. If you haven’t heard the podcast, I highly recommend it - for tuning out coworkers and otherwise)

But the thing is, I really am bad at keeping plants alive. As evidenced by exhibit 1 and 2. I don’t know what I can possibly be doing wrong, except for the fact that I “forget” that they exist. Like my credit card bill. 

But when I purchased my Fiddle Leaf fig tree a few months ago, I was dead set (lol) on keeping that sucker alive. Fiddle Leaf fig trees are everywhere in interior design right now. And I know what you’re thinking - usually when something is “all the rage”, the trend has already come and died (lol). I know you’re all reading this and screaming at the screen,  ”Think about your animal addition, Meg!” “Remember the Keep Calm and Carry On, disaster?!” “Will you ever learn, Meg?!” The answer is yes, but I’m just smarter than you. 

I feel like indoor plants can never really go out of style. Sure, some are more popular at certain times than others (succulents a few years back, for example), but overall you’re never going to cling to your roommate, weeping, when you have to move out of the apartment and figure out what to do with all of the crap you bought because it was “trendy” six months ago (ahem, I’m talking to you, you keep-calmers). Fiddle Leafs especially, can be versatile and fit into practically any kind of decor - from eclectic, to traditional, to comfy and relaxed. The only place they won’t work is if you’re living in your mother’s basement somewhere. Not because you’re a loser and don’t deserve one (even though you might be) but because these trees require a ton of natural light. 

I thought my living room in my town home would be a perfect place for an indoor tree, and apparently the previous owner did too, because he had one in the exact same spot where mine is now (bonus points: he’s a landscape architect, so putting the tree in the same spot he did either makes me really smart, or telepathic). 

When it was delivered, in all its glory, it was magnificent. And it stayed that way for about two months. Until it started to die.

When it was delivered, in all its glory, it was magnificent. And it stayed that way for about two months. Until it started to die.


I flipped. The one plant that I had a conscious effort to keep alive was slowly dying right in front of me. Like the Croc shoe trend - it’s technically still alive, but for how much longer? How much?!

Leaves like this would litter the floor around the concrete planter. I would fall to my knees, pounding the ground with my fists (not too loud, because, you know, I have neighbors) screaming up at the imaginary plant god above asking, “why me? WHY?”

But seriously, I did plan to ask the people I bought it from what I was doing wrong and demand a refund if they sold me a defective tree (is that a thing?). Luckily, the company is right down the street from my house, so I made the drive over there a few weekends ago and planned to talk to them in person. I did this for two reasons:

1. I was going to bring some of the dead leaves that had fallen to show them that I wasn’t lying and see if they could tell what was wrong with the tree based on the leaves (or lack thereof).

2. so I could cry in person in case they refused to help me and/or give me a refund if it was a goner. 

But it was Saturday and the office was “closed”. I refuse to believe this because there were several cars parked out front. I think when they saw me getting out of the car with a handful of dead fig leaves, assertively marching up to the door, they all cowered behind their desks and clung to each other - just praying that this was all just a bad dream and I’d go away. It worked.

But then I called (six times) and emailed about twice many, until I received a response from Gloria. Bless your heart, Gloria. They must have had a raffle at the office to see who got the misfortune of dealing with me. Gloria must have pulled the short straw. 

Gloria agreed to come to my house (since it was just three blocks away) to see herself what was wrong with my tree. You are a brave soul, Gloria, to come to a home of a girl that has been psycho-emailing you about a fig tree for three weeks. Give that lady a medal of valor or something. 

But she said that fiddle leaf figs aren’t the easiest or low-maintenance plants in the world. She said that they all have different personalities and are very fickle. If that’s the case, then my fig tree is a rebellious teenager that is mad at me for not allowing a belly button piercing and is dying in protest or something.

She trimmed it up, told me to water it more and rotate it more frequently and got out of there as soon as possible. I think she ran to her car. 

Since then the tree has looked a lot better. I guess it just needed water and light. Weird. But it did start to lose some more leaves this week so I frantically pounded at my keyboard yesterday and sent Gloria a panicked message and some pictures of the tree. She said it was fine. I think she’s just trying to get rid of me, but I’ll take her word for it. I think emailing her eight times in one day about a tree is probably overkill (lol), but I’m really trying to be better about keeping things alive. I feel like it could be good practice for the future. 

This is Gloria, telling me not to hesitate to ask questions, which I think is a lie. 

This is Gloria, telling me not to hesitate to ask questions, which I think is a lie. 

So, so-far-so-good over here, guys. I got the plant of my dreams and I’m barely keeping it alive. Keep your fingers crossed for me. And if I’m ever investigated for that future/imaginary crime and Sarah Koenig does a Serial podcast on my case, you can call in and tell her that I am a good person and this post proves it.